Which Came First? Toxic Facilities, Minority Move-In, and Environmental Justice


Manuel Pastor Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, Casa Latina, Merrill College, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. E-mail: mpastor@cats.ucsc.edu


Previous research suggests that minority residential areas have a disproportionate likelihood of hosting various environmental hazards. Some critics have responded that the contemporary correlation of race and hazards may reflect post-siting minority move-in, perhaps because of a risk effect on housing costs, rather than discrimination in siting. This article examines the disproportionate siting and minority move-in hypotheses in Los Angeles County by reconciling tract geography and data over three decades with firm-level information on the initial siting dates for toxic storage and disposal facilities. Using simple t-tests, logit analysis, and a novel simultaneous model, we find that disproportionate siting matters more than disproportionate minority move-in in the sample area. Racial transition is also an important predictor of siting, suggesting a role for multiracial organizing in resisting new facilities.